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Administration Boosts Deportation Projections : Crime: INS, citing get-tough policy, says it expects to expel more than 30,000 criminal immigrants. Number exceeds earlier estimates.

August 26, 1995|SAM FULWOOD III | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Touting the success of its get-tough policy on foreign nationals who commit crimes in the United States, the Clinton Administration said Friday that more than 30,000 criminal immigrants are expected to be deported by the end of current fiscal year.

T. Alexander Aleinikoff, executive associate commissioner at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, said the revised projection exceeds an earlier estimate of 28,579 deportations by the end of September, when the government's fiscal year ends. The agency has no comparative figures for previous years, however, because the program is new.

In Los Angeles, a separate, 30-day test project at the county jail resulted in the deportation of more than 600 foreign nationals who have completed jail terms for narcotics violations or other serious felony crimes, Aleinikoff said.

Under that program, which went into effect on June 1, INS officials were placed on round-the-clock duty at the Los Angeles County Jail to identify deportable foreigners and expel them from the country upon their release. The program became permanent on July 17 and since then, another 406 people have been deported and 300 more accepted voluntary deportations to their home countries.

The deportation initiatives, authorized by Congress in the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, allow authorities to begin administrative procedures that lead to expelling convicted foreign nationals while they serve time in a U.S. prison.

The procedures apply only to those people who are not permanent residents or eligible for citizenship and have been convicted and sentenced for committing serious crimes in the United States. Upon their release, the foreign nationals are deported to their home countries without having to be detained for a hearing by an immigration judge.

INS officials pointed to the increased deportations as a merit badge for their promised efforts to protect the nation against illegal immigrants who have committed crimes in the United States.

"These numbers signal the initial impact of new INS initiatives to remove criminal aliens from our communities," Aleinikoff said here at a news conference.

Immigration issues are politically explosive, made more so with the approach of the 1996 presidential campaign and the emotional impact of illegal immigration on California voters.

As they prepare for presidential runs, Clinton and his Republican challengers--especially Gov. Pete Wilson--have been building cases for themselves as tough on "criminal aliens."

U.S. Atty. Gen. Janet Reno, for example, appeared last May on the steps of the Los Angeles County Jail to announce the Administration's pilot program to root out and deport illegal immigrants who are already ensnared in state and federal prisons.

Aleinikoff also said the federal government's broader efforts to stanch the flow of illegal immigrants is working. The number of illegal immigrants deported in the April-June, 1995, quarter totaled 11,911, he said, a figure that includes 8,134 who had been convicted of crimes.

To ensure that the Administration receive credit for its crackdown, Aleinikoff said INS officials would begin to issue quarterly reports that highlight criminal immigrant deportation figures.

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